Exploding targets are the cause of four Idaho range fires so far this year (video)

Exploding targets, not bullets caused four fires that have burned up hundreds of acres of rangeland in Idaho so far this year.

Four of the 19 human-caused fires in southwest Idaho this year were caused by the exploding targets that have become popular among target shooters. Two wildfires near Kuna on Sunday burned about 800 acres, and a third exploding target fire Monday burned 370 acres south of Marsing.

When hit by high velocity bullets these chemical incendiary targets explode, sending off burning material that ignites surrounding grass.

The exploding targets are specifically outlawed on public lands during fire season by the annual fire prevention order issued by the Bureau of Land Management. This is the same one that prohibits the use of fireworks and tracer ammunition on public lands.

Here is a video that explains the targets. (Note right at the beginning during the first explosion before the guy starts talking the fire starting on the left.)

1339624013 Exploding targets are the cause of four Idaho range fires so far this year (video) Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Darwin award

The people that shot the targets must of known that they could start a fire, uh oh guess not. What a bunch of nimrods.

And you wonder...

...why there are so many laws and regulations.


I sincerely hope that those people who are stupid enough to use these types of targets in the desert are caught and ordered to repay the cost of the emergency responders who had to clean up their mess. Stories like this remind all of us how stupid some of our fellow citizens truly are.

People with Guns and Little Else

Shooting exploding what around dry fuels? Why don't just barbeque hand grenades! Please find them, arrest them and fine them -ASAP.

How many wackjobs had posted earlier this week

..."thar's no way these fires are caused by shooters , cuz shooters is such responsible folk"...

When you have the IQ of a 5 year old, anything is possible. Most of it harmful or bad. Let's make the possession of Tannerite and the other ballistic incendiaries an act of terrorism.

The point they were making is...

...responsible shooters didn't cause the fires. Irresponsible shooters with illegal (on BLM land) targets did. Of course, that doesn't stop the anti-Second Amendment BLM and local media with being quick to cast the blame on ALL shooters, by leaving out that one inconvenient fact. Had it not been for KINF, the full story would've never seen the light of day. And coincidentally, BLM regional honchos are meeting tomorrow to discuss, among other things, fire control policy. Hmmmmmm....do I hear an agenda being pushed? Again?


.... the points made by at least a couple of posters on the original story were (1) it was a cool, moist day and there's no way that shooting could have started the fires south of Kuna, (2) in that case, the BLM was just guessing that shooters had started the fires and (3) the BLM had a sinister, anti-shooting agenda in publishing what was obviously a WAG intended to give lawful target shooting a poor public image.

They didn't think about shooting at pyrotechnic targets in tall grass...

The fact is

The Idaho Statesman is telling the story. We heard it from BLM not other media. It saw the light of day because that's what we do.

ha ha LMAO

Maybe he is referring to the FACT that KINF reported it BEFORE the enlightned Idaho Statesman.


AND let's be clear- in the voice interview, the BLM fire investigator Kerri Bilboa says "conditions are not quite right yet" for a bullet ricochet and "it's more likely a tracer or something".

So the bullet fire started back in March was a TOTAL fluke- due to conditions.
How does the BLM change the conditions (their story) so quickly?

I got it Rock!!!! You would fit in perfectly at the BLM-- The new guy!

They NEED the AM, the FM is only a translator


You fry wants with that?

It's ignorant arseholes like this

that give the law-abiding, common sense shooters a bad name. And once again, our tax dollars are wasted because of some idiots. Hopefully they can catch some of these jerkwads, make them pay for the firefighting costs (including re-seeding), and suspend their hunting/fishing privileges until they have fully paid their monetary debt....Sunny...

I agree totally Sunny. I

I agree totally Sunny. I like to go Shooting. Soon we are not going to be able to go anywhere but a Shooting range becuase of stupid people doing these stupid things. And that icludes the scumbags that drag a washing machine out to the desert for target practice! Take thier licenses away from them when get caught.

Not all exploding targets have a "fire" explosion......

The exploding targets that I have shot in the past don't even let off a spark. It's a DRY, chemical explosion. NO FIRE. I'm not familiar with the brand featured in the video but after watching the video I don't think I saw any sparks coming off those targets???

No sparks, just heat

The binary targets are a mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum flakes (and some proprietary chemicals in the case of the store-bought stuff.) Aluminum oxidizes like the dickens in the ammonium nitrate, but since the flakes have an oxide layer on them in their natural state, when initially mixed, there's no reaction.

When struck by a bullet at high velocity, the aluminum oxide is abraded off and the flakes react with the ammonium nitrate and oxidize in an instant. The result is intense heat, which causes the container to explode from the expanding gas. It's like a small thermite reaction, but not as violent or hot - but hot enough to light the dry vegetation on fire.

I'm with you!

Shooting the tannerite targets is fun, but, like many things, context is everything. If you're going to shoot at an explosive in a crispy, dry desert, you'd better be ready to pony up for the firefighting costs.

How 'bout a a little more common sense and a little less "hold my beer"?

By the way, if you've ever picked up a .30-06 or .308 sh*ell right after it's been fired, you'll only do it once. Now think about how hot the jacketed round is, wherever it landed. Best to pick your backstop accordingly as well.

I get so cheesed off at stupid shooters...it seems that no matter how careful my friends and I are at what we do, there's always some bonehead who's going all out to ruin it for the rest of us. That's why I quit going to public ranges and do all my shooting at a members' only club.

Incidentally, Statesman, you've really got to work on the "dirty word" filter.

Ya can't fix stupid.

If you really want to watch something explode when you shoot it there's a better cheaper way to do it than like this. Take a 1/2 or 1 gallon plastic milk jug and fill as full as possible with colored water. It won't explode with small arms but it sure will with an 06. Just don't forget to take the remnants home with ya.

I'm an advocate for shooting, too,

but by the looks of it, the plastic (presumably) container gets blown into tiny little pieces; lots of them. If you don't pick up every piece - you're littering, just like the shotgun sjells (dumb censor), .22 sjells, clay pigeons, and other remnants of target shooting found on public lands.

You can't tell me that anyone who has ever blown one of these things up stuck around to pick up all of the pieces.

They don't have a problem

on The History Channel's TOP GUN!

and then there is the law

and then there is the law enforcement officer in 1996 that shot incendiary tracer rounds on day where humidity was high and the temperature was over 100 degrees. Again there is no common sense, we live by example of the most stupid, and you can not fix stupid

Fixin stupid

You're right there is no "fixin stupid" but you can sure as heck charge these morons for the costs of the fire suppression.

I agree

These type of reprobates aren't usually curable. And worse, it can be genetic.

Nice story...

...as reported yesterday by AM 730 KINF.


Too bad their FM is fleabitten outside Caldwell.(300+ watts)

Which ironically duplicates the AM's dropoff at the nightly signal change.

You fry wants with that?

Wonder if the Military will get fined...

They use tracers in the summer all the time.

geesh...... Exploding targets in combustible grass

I've got an idea, why not fill some small plastic containters with flour. No explosion but you'd get a cool white "poof" that verifies the hit target!

Flour can be very explosive with enough static electricity ...

You should see to what safety lengths shipping companies take to prevent static discharges when hauling and moving flour.

Gold Medal, the Evil Empire?

Go away and build back your wall.


You fry wants with that?

The military

I do believe the military does a pretty good job of policing themselves, knowing full well going into an exercise where tracers are going to be used. But again accidents do happen.

probably the same people

who think it's fun to shoot off illegal fireworks in the summer in the desert. I water my property for day beforehand in hopes I won't lose my house.

Somebody nearby my place popped a cracker/M80 today


You fry wants with that?

Not convinced


I generally like your reporting but I am a little skeptical on this one. I'm a shooter who has used the exploding targets like the kind sold at Cabelas and other local sporting goods stores. I've NEVER seen flame, sparks, smoke or anything that would cause a fire. I could be wrong. I'm not an expert, but all my instincts tell me there is more to this story. I'm not saying it couldn't happen this way, but I find it extremely unlikely to happen this way, so close together in time and proximity. Starting a fire with a gun is possible but usually requires great effort. All my red flags going up tell me there is more to this story. If I'm wrong, I will stop using these targets, if I'm right, you need to clarify so that those of us who enjoy shooting aren't grouped with the db's. Thanks for the forum!

They're hot

The chemical reaction generates major league heat. The aluminum oxidizes crazy fast in the presence of ammonium nitrate (when it's kickstarted by the impact of the rifle bullet) and that's where the heat comes from. Nothing burns, it just gets seriously hot very quickly. That's why the target explodes - you get a huge increase in temperature and everything expands rapidly. Boom! And if there's a patch of cheatgrass next to it, instant flame.

You don't have to have sparks or fire to cause something to burn. Focus a magnifying glass on a piece of paper. No sparks, no fire, but that paper will get hot enough to burn.

I don't think that there's a need to stop using the targets, but there's certainly a need to use them properly. The instructions right on the canister say to user it away from flammable materials...for a reason!


Well, there goes another hobby!


Rocky writes
"Exploding targets, not bullets caused four fires"
"were caused by the exploding targets"

BLM writes
"Boise District BLM has investigated 19 human-caused fires so far this season; they suspect that four have been ignited by exploding targets."

"SUSPECT" is a lot different than "caused". Just ask OJ.

BLM's headline is as misleading as Rocks, but as we ALL know headlines are often misleading just to get attention.

FACT BLM "suspects" the exploding targets. Explosion and a hot bullet. Which one caused the fire?

QUESTION- What is an exploding target?

Just because Wrongo Rocko posts a video of a particular binary exploding target, that does not mean those were involved in these 4 fires.
Exploding target= water bottle filled with fuel. At least it's 'recylcing' the plastic bottle.

Now TRUE, an exploding target can start a fire. But it is only SUSPECTED in these cases.

Should this stuff be legal?
Without a license? It makes 1 bullet become a bomb. That sounds a lot like an IED.

Ask Elmo:

FIRE? The beginning of the above video is VERY convincing of that.
And for the pyro in all here's more evidence

See the videos that are being made with this stuff and it's tough to argue for the open and unregulate use of it.